Review: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2 (2015) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2 (2015)

This final chapter of THE HUNGER GAMES series concludes with a dramatic, if uneven payoff.


This is it. After three years of three HUNGER GAMES movies since 2012, the massively popular series has finally come to an end with the second chapter of the two-part MOCKINGJAY finale. The first MOCKINGJAY marks a radical, but refreshing change of pace from the usual series' offering of energetic action-adventure approach with a more downbeat tone that divided many casual viewers. The second MOCKINGJAY follows the same doom-and-gloom narrative pattern, which is actually fine by me. While the movie contains a few effective moments, this final chapter tends to overstay its welcome with unnecessary patches that drags longer than it should.

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

The second MOCKINGJAY picks up right after the end of the first chapter, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) suffering from neck injury after being brutally attacked by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). While she still nursing for full recovery, District 13 rebel leaders President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and her right-hand man Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) wants her to become the voice of reason for reuniting the revolutionaries from all districts of Panem to overthrow the Capitol. But what Katniss really cares the most is her personal vendetta to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland) once and for all.

THE GOOD STUFF

Like the first MOCKINGJAY, this second chapter tends to stall on and off with its inconsistent classical-pacing approach. But thankfully, returning director Francis Lawrence manages to raise up the stake by delivering some of the series' best action scenes. This is especially evident during the second half of the movie, where Katniss and her squad has to find a way of navigating the ruined city filled with various booby traps including gunfire, landmines and a giant wave of black substance. Best of all, the action scenes are packed with a heightened sense of urgency that offsets most of the movie's quiet moments. Even though the movie is rated PG-13, Lawrence made the best use of this otherwise audience-friendly rating to establish the nervy consequences when one is engaged in a war zone without the absolute need of showing blood and guts to state the obvious. Case in point is a shocking moment where one unfortunate character suffers from a landmine explosion.

But it was the final third act that impresses me the most. Instead of traditional Hollywood-style showdown between Katniss and President Snow, the movie delivers a subversive twist that I wouldn't want to spoil it here. You just have to see it for yourself, unless of course, if you are already a fan of the book series beforehand.

From the day one since Jennifer Lawrence headlining her now-iconic role of Katniss Everdeen, she remains the main reason that makes THE HUNGER GAMES movies such a successful franchise. Not surprisingly, she still delivers the same consistent quality with a steely, yet deeply affecting performance each time she appears on the screen.

Following her impressive series debut in the first MOCKINGJAY, Julianne Moore has once again excels in her role as the cold and calculating President Alma Coin. Josh Hutcherson, in the meantime, does a fine job reprising his role as Peeta who suffers from hallucination after being brainwashed by President Snow in the previous instalment. Speaking of President Snow, Donald Sutherland's manipulative and tyrannical role has always been a mixed bag for me. But over the course of three years since he debuted with a so-so appearance in the first HUNGER GAMES, his performance improves considerably in the subsequent series. Here, I'm glad he manages to leave a lasting impression delivering a perfectly icy-cold performance for one last time in this final instalment of the HUNGER GAMES series. Jena Malone, who already give a standout performance as the rebellious Johanna Mason in THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, pulls off another memorable turn, especially during a scene where she mocks Katniss about how important she is being a Mockingjay.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)

The scene where Katniss and her squad fight against a horde of bloodthirsty lizard mutts inside the sewer tunnel, is particularly a gripping mix of claustrophobia and tense action set-piece.

THE BAD STUFF

Clocking at 137 minutes, the second MOCKINGJAY stretches way too long to the point where the pace derails more than once. The first half of the movie is particularly plodding, with too many expository-filled scenarios that could have trimmed shorter or omitted altogether. After all, why bother with all the heavy drama that already been addressed in the first MOCKINGJAY? By now, it's logical that the second part is supposed to focus more on the payoff instead. Even the recurring moments of love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale have grown so stale it barely matters anymore.

The supporting characters, in the meantime, are largely sidelined this time around. It's a shame that the late Philip Seymour Hoffman's final screen appearance in the second MOCKINGJAY ends up with a whimper of barely-there performance. The rest of the returning actors, including Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer and Jeffrey Wright are all neglected into thankless performances. Finally, the less said about Liam Hemsworth's same old wooden performance the better.

Then there's the long-winded epilogue that doesn't seem to know how or when to end the movie on a proper note. It's like as if the filmmakers have the obligation to patch up as many extra scenes as possible to fulfil a minimum 2-hour requirement. Seriously, after watching this second chapter of MOCKINGJAY, the movie would have been better off with less than two hours running time instead.

FINAL WORDS


Like the unnecessary splitting chapters of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 and PART 2 as well as THE HOBBIT trilogy, this second MOCKINGJAY do suffer from the same creative mistake. But despite some of the movie's shortcomings, it remains a worthy final instalment of THE HUNGER GAMES series.

* This review is written courtesy from TGV press screening *

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